The dietary supplement industry received a large dose of scrutiny in 2009, particularly in media reports that revealed the inclusion of designer steroids in some products (SI, May 18, 2009). These revelations followed a U.S. Government Accountability Office report calling for greater product oversight. Now, if Senators John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) get their way, such oversight will be a matter of law. On Feb. 3, McCain and Dorgan introduced the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010, which would give the FDA more regulatory power, including the ability to recall unsafe supplements. The four major pro sports leagues, the USOC and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency are all behind the bill.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association that represents supplement manufacturers, supports giving the FDA recall authority but says that some provisions of the bill would overburden businesses without increasing safety. The council also objects to a provision that would force companies to report to the FDA any time a consumer complains of a bad reaction to a supplement. Currently, companies are required to report only adverse reactions that are considered medically serious.
BITTER PILLS SI's story helped spur action on unsafe products.